Toasting home grown talent: Volvo Ocean Race Team electrical engineer, Ashton Sampson

DSC_2538CAPE TOWN: 06 December 2017

The Volvo Ocean Race is generally regarded worldwide as the most supreme water sailing sport in the world, and with good reason. Oceans sailing skill and talent combined with the most modern technology in yacht racing over a period of over 260 days at sea at a time, simply positions the sport at the top of rankings of its kind.

For South Africa, the Volvo Ocean Race would mean pretty much very little without its direct participation and contribution, both as a touching point during the race’s course around the world, and for the opportunities it offers for business investment especially in the boat manufacturing and repair sector, as well as the marine tourism and hospitality sectors.

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Crew members of the Vestas team who took third place on the South Africa leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/18

Strategically positioned as the gateway to the southern ocean, South Africa but specifically Cape Town in the Western Cape has, according to organizers and local hosts of the event, always been a welcome sight for sailors and boat crews, not only because of its world renowned beauty and hospitality, but also due to the boat building maintenance and repair expertise in the city.

During a two week stop-over in the Mother City, this time around occurring in the window period of 24 November 2017 to 10 December 2017, the race pumps into the local economy more than R500-million and in the process, creating new and expanded business and job opportunities for locals.

Such job opportunities are what have led to one young South African, a young electrical engineer from Grassy Park in the Cape Flats, Ashton Sampson, aspiring to and eventually joining the VoR Team a few years ago, and never having to look back again.

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South African born Volvo Ocean Race Team electrical engineer, Mr Ashton Sampson in Cape Town this week

Sampson dropped in back home this past week with the arrival of the VoR for the South Africa leg (second leg of the race overall) to do what he does best – making sure that the seven yachts are in tip top condition once again, when they sat sail for the third leg of the race on Sunday, 10 December 2017.

The yachts having started arriving on the afternoon of Friday, 24 November 2017, have  since been spending time in the dedicated VoR Boat Yard on the south western end of the Table Bay harbor where Sampson and teammates have been working long hours to ensure that the ‘Volvo 65’s’ will be in their best sailing condition to take on the 6 500 nautical mile journey to Melbourne, Australia.

This blog learned that 38 year-old Sampson developed a love for the ocean from a very young age and through hard work and determination, was able to become part of the Volvo Ocean Race team, known as the ‘best of the best’.

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Some boating business and Volvo Ocean Race enthusiasts visiting the VoR Boat Yard at the Cape Town habour near the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

Educationally, he is the product of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), one of the top institutions in the country which working closely with other partners including the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), produces top notch sailors and other maritime sector related graduates.

Sampson’s is a National Diploma in Electrical Engineering, which eventually led to his being hired and employed by London’s Diverse Yachts in 2009, which he then left in 2015 only to rejoin again in 2017.

DSC_2805.JPG“I’ve been passionate about sailing and electronics for as long as I can remember and always wanted to combine the two. I was given the opportunity to join the South African America’s Cup in 2004, which set a path in motion that I don’t regret at all.

“I work very hard and I think I have a good work ethic. I believe this always shows in the quality of my work and people notice this, said Sampson in an interview.

About his direct involvement with the VoR Team, speaking in a remarkably flawless English accent, he said: “We’ve been contracted to the Boatyard, a sub organisation of the Volvo Ocean Race, which has been setup to maintain all systems relating to the fleet.

“For the first edition of the one design fleet of Volvo 65’s in the 2014/15 race, I eventually ended up managing the installation phase of all the electronic systems across the fleet.

‘We were then appointed to maintain the fleet’s electronics as they raced around the world and worked closely with various suppliers.  This time round it’s a very similar setup, but we’ve refined the processes.”

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The ‘Gateway’ to the Volvo Ocean Race precinct at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town

In between the times he has left and rejoined his current employer, Diverse Yachts, Sampson worked for the British America’s Cup team, Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing as a systems technician. His rejoining the former employee a few months ago was for serving specifically in the current VoR, he says.

This 2017/18 VoR South Africa leg stop over is not the first for him. He’d been here before, he told a group of local boat manufacturing and maintenance that visited the VoR boat yard a few days after the racing yachts docked.

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Crew members of the Mapfre, the first Volvo Ocean Race yacht to reach Cape Town on 24 November 2017

Describing his love for the F1 of yacht racing, Sampson said: “It takes a lot of professionalism and teamwork to make this race a success, both on and off the water. All the people across the fleet have very high standards and I thrive in this kind of environment. The hardest part is to always plan and anticipate events that the race will throw at you and being fully prepared for it.”

When on dry land, Sampson lives in a small town, Fareham, in the south of England near the coast with his fiancé. 

DSC_2517He admits to missing Cape Town and South Africa. “I mostly miss family and friends, but also the many attractions around Cape Town relating to nature; the local fauna and flora, animals, mountain ranges, oceans, inland lakes and friendly people. Cape Town is truly unique in this regard as it has so much to offer and explore.”

To stay close to the sight and smell of the ocean, and which his Fareham abode offers in abundance, Sampson said:  “I always live near the coast – I love being around water. My parents and most of my family are based in Cape Town and I generally visit at least once a year. Of course it helps that the race is in my home town. Cape Town is most certainly the best stopover in the world!”

Sampson’s fellow South Africans on the team include Mike Coburn, who is involved in sail making through North Sails, and Simon Botes, who is involved in the hardware (deck gear, winches and more), dealing with Harken.

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SA research and training vessel, SA Agulhas reaches Mauritius en route to Antarctica: SAMSA

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(File photo) The SA Agulhas departing from Cape Town to Port Louis, Mauritius on Friday, 24 November 2017 to pick up a group of Indian scientists en route to Antarctica for the second scientific research and cadet training expedition of 2017. The sojourn will last at least 80 days.

CAPE TOWN: 04 December 2017

SA Agulhas heads back to Antarctica with scientists and 20 new cadets on board: SAMSA

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Pretoria: 22 November 2017

The SA Agulhas, South Africa’s dedicated cadet training vessel will be heading back to the Antarctica region on Friday, on yet another scientific research and cadet training expedition scheduled to last about three months, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) announced on Wednesday

According to SAMSA in a statement in Cape Town, on board the vessel will be a group of Indian scientists to conduct studies of parts of the Indian and Southern Oceans, and in their company, a group of new South African cadets under the Port Elizabeth based South Africa International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), drawn from the Cape Peninsula and Durban Universities of Technology (CPUT and DUT) to undergo seafarer training during the expedition.

IMG_4815 (2)The expedition beginning with the SA Agulhas setting sail from Cape Town on Friday, will be the second of its kind in the past 14 months involving the combination of a scientific study and the training of South African cadets.

The last one occurred between December 2016 and March 2017.

According to SAMSA on Wednesday: “The vessel will transverse through the Indian ocean with its first stop in Mauritius, to collect the scientists, and then head south to Antarctica to spend three months on a research mission. For the 20 cadets, recruited for various on board technical functions, this will be their maiden voyage.

“The SA Agulhas is expected to reach Antarctica in four weeks. The cadets, aged between 20-27 years old, fresh from their academic studies from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and Durban University of Technology comprise a corps of 19 deck cadets and one engine cadet. Twelve are males and eight are females,” said SAMSA

Management of the training of the cadets has according to SAMSA,  again been entrusted The South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) which will work jointly with two deck training officers, Captain Merwyn Pieters and Steven Paulse, who are both experienced in the operation of the vessel and repeat travelers of scientific expedition route undertaken a year.

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Mr Sobantu Tilayo. COO South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)

Remarking about the expedition, SAMSA COO Mr Sobantu Tilayi said: “As SAMSA we are proud to be part of this endeavor to train young people and expose them to new opportunities. We are confident that the cadets chosen possess the steely determination and focus to survive in the Antarctic.

“The knowledge acquired from this cold journey will benefit South Africa’s fast growing maritime sector and the entire world.

“It is through such initiatives that we aim to fight the plague of unemployment, create awareness about our oceans and help contribute towards our oceans economy,” said Mr Tilayi.

Captain Pieters, an experienced seaman with almost 46 years under his belt working on various vessels, said the cadets were enthusiastic and keen.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime for these young people – a trip like this would normally cost over $50 000, and they are being afforded this opportunity to learn under some of the most trying conditions. Between the other training officer and I we are honored to pass on our expertise and knowledge.

“It takes guts of steel to be away from your family and loved ones. For this group, this journey is new to them, and it would come with many new experiences, including building team spirit,” said Capt Pieters.

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SA seafarers’ Competency and Proficiency certificates up for re-validation and conversion: SAMSA

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Pretoria: 18 August 2017

A process for the further standardization and conversion of certificates issued to South African seafarers, including certificates for persons working on fishing and other local vessels is underway, the South African Maritime Safety Authority announced this week.

This followed the issue recently of a Marine Notice (MN) No.16 of 2017 regarding the renewals and revalidation process.

SAMSA says the revalidation now due affects precisely South African seafarers holding Certificates of Competency and/or Proficiency issued in accordance with regulations repealed by the Merchant Shipping (Safe Manning, Training and Certification) Regulations, 2013.

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File Photo

These include groups of certificates in the categories of Marine Motorman, Fisherman, Port Operations and Radio Certificates. In these categories, according to a schedule released with the MN No.16, there are as many as 31 different seafarer operations certificates due for revalidation.

Changes in certificates titles

SAMSA says among highly significant issues with the announced revalidation is that a majority of the seafarers’ certificates are changes in titles, in accordance with Regulations.

The 31 listed certificates for revalidation all carry news titles.

But in addition, says SAMSA, holders of certificates previously covered under Marine Notice 24 of 2016 (Applications for new Manila Compliant Certificates) may continue applying for their certificates as required to keep their certificates valid for service.

Meanwhile, in terms of the requirement now due to for re-validation of certificates in the categories highlighted, SAMSA says seafarers holding the certificates listed shall re-validate at five (5) yearly intervals with applications for re-validation acceptable from six (6) months before expiry.

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Chief Examiner, Mr Azwimmbavhi Mulaudzi

“During the application for re-validation/conversion, candidates must select the appropriate new title of the certificate as set out in the equivalency table in Regulation 115 and summarized in the Annexure issued,” says SAMSA’s Chief Examiner – Mr Azwimmbavhi Mulaudzi.

“To be issued with the new format certificates, seafarers holding certificates listed in the Annexure of the Schedule posted on the SAMSA website, shall apply using appropriate forms found in all SAMSA offices countrywide, and on the website.

“Information, other than course certificates, submitted as prima facie evidence of the candidate being complied with the requirements for the new certificates must be in accordance with Paragraph 4 of GOP-506 – Revalidation of a Certificate of Competency

“Furthermore, all applications shall be submitted at the nearest SAMSA office, and applications submitted to the Head Office will be assigned to a port office.  Candidates applying shall use the latest forms available on the SAMSA website.”

Mr Mulaudzi says SAMSA will continue to accept applications and process, for first issue of the certificates, under the repealed Regulations, until 31 December 2018, except for Certificates of Competency which require candidates to complete their written examinations at SAMSA.

He says the last application for the Certificate of Competency which includes the written examination is scheduled for 15 October 2018 to allow such to be processed, while the last written examination at SAMSA shall be on or before 25 November 2018

Candidates being assessed successfully during this period shall be issued with the equivalent new format interim certificate as well as the final certificate.

According to Mr Mulaudzi, applications for re-validation and conversion may be made from next Monday, 21 August 2017.

He says, otherwise all certificates to which the issued Marine Notice applies, other than Short Range Radio Operators Certificates, shall remain valid for service until 31 December 2018

“Certificates for Long Range shall remain valid for a period of five (5) years from the date of issue, i.e. not valid beyond 31 July 2022, except that certificates issued on or before 31 December 2013 shall remain valid until 31 December 2018.”

For further info, affected and or interested people may view the MN No.16 on the SAMSA website, or alternatively make inquiries with the Chief Examiner through the following email address: exams@samsa.org.za.

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Parliament congratulates South Africa’s first three black women Master Mariners

Pretoria: 23 May 2017

South Africa’s first three black female Master Mariners (a.k.a ship Captains) received a warm welcome and applause at the country’s Parliament on Tuesday when they were introduced to lawmakers for the first time by the Minister of Transport, Joe Masangwanyi.

Transport Minister, Joe Masangwanyi (2)Mr Masangwanyi introduced the trio to Parliament during his maiden speech as Transport Minister in which delivered the ministry’s budget for the 2017/2018 financial year.

In his speech during which he also announced an allocation of about R119-million for maritime, Mr Masangwanyi described the Master Mariner qualification obtained by Captains Thembela Taboshe, Captain Tsepo Motloutsi and Captain Pretty Molefe in 2016 as the highest qualification for seafarers, and which enables them to command vessels of up to 3000 tons worldwide.

The three ship captains who made history by being the first black African females to do so, are currently working as ship surveyors for the South African Maritime Safety (SAMSA) at the port of Durban while furthering their academic studies in maritime law.

In the video below, Mr Maswangwayi makes his remarks about the three pioneers from 19:38 minutes to 20:30 minutes.

Meanwhile, a number of SAMSA projects came under the spotlight during the debate including the establishment a year ago of ships bunkering services at the port of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, some aspects of its involvement in cadet training as well as its social responsibility contributions to communities impacted by maritime activities, among them the community of Enkovekuni at uMhlabauyalingana in KwaZulu-Natal, as well as projects earmarked for the Port St Johns community in the current year.

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South Africa remains posed for a pioneering role in Africa’s ocean economy development: SAMSA

Pretoria: 14 March 2017

The SA Agulhas, South Africa’s dedicated cadet training vessel on arrival Port Elizabeth on Friday after a three month research and training expedition in the Indian and Antarctic oceans with 30 cadets on board.

South Africa is well positioned to play a pioneering role in the African continent’s drive for expansive growth of its ocean’s economy sector, but especially if stakeholders and key role players both in the public and private sector continue to strengthen co-operation and collaboration towards the goal.

That is according to South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) acting chief executive officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi in the wake of yet another highly successful collaborative effort that saw a group of Indian scientists along with 30 South African cadets complete on schedule a three-months long research and training expedition both along the Indian Ocean and the Antarctic region.

Crucially, according to Mr Sobantu, the expedition was successfully undertaken aboard the country’s only dedicated cadet training vessel, the SA Agulhas, this past week.

After dropping off the Indian scientists in Mauritius a few days earlier, the vessel – under the command of SAMSA – docked in Port Elizabeth on Friday, to a warm welcome by senior officials of several institutions in both the public and private sector. These included SAMSA, the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), the Transnet National Ports Authority(TNPA), the National Skills Fund under the Department of Higher Education and Training, recently established bunker services group, Aegean; the South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA, the Maritime Crew Services (MSC) and a few others.

The SA Agulhas was acquired by SAMSA in 2011 for training in support of the National Cadet Programme, which is being managed by the Port Elizabeth-based SAIMI.

The training is being funded by the National Skills Fund.

Mr Sobantu Tilayi, acting CEO of SAMSA greeting the 30 deck and engine cadets that were on board the SA Agulhas in in its three months research and training expedition to the Antarctic region over the last three months
Mr Sobantu Tilayi, acting CEO of SAMSA greeting the 30 deck and engine cadets that were on board the SA Agulhas in in its three months research and training expedition to the Antarctic region over the last three months

The vessel sailed on 14 December 2016 from Cape Town with 30 cadets under the guide of SAMTRA and MCS.

The group of seven (7) engineering and 23 deck cadets along with two training officers joined the South African crew on a research voyage chartered by India’s National Centre for Antarctic Research.

Her first port of call was Port Louis in Mauritius on Christmas Eve where she took on board the team of Indian scientists and five container loads of equipment. The ship sailed south from Mauritius before heading West of Kerguelen Island and on to Antarctica and back to Mauritius carrying out operations at various scientific stations along the way.

On completion of the expedition Friday, Mr Sobantu said the event was just one to possibly vindicate the brave stance taken by the maritime safety authority  a few years ago to acquire the vessel with the sole intention  of providing a viable yet necessary intervention in the development of a local cadre of seafarers.

More than 350 cadets have been trained aboard the SA Agulhas since 2012 after SAMSA acquired the vessel from the Department of Environmental Affairs and re-purposed the former Antarctic research and supply vessel as a training vessel to support the National Cadet Programme.

The cadet programme enables aspiring sea-farers to obtain the practical sea-time experience required to attain a Certificate of Competency (COC) as either a Deck Officer or Marine Engineering Officer. The COC is an internationally recognised qualification, issued by SAMSA in accordance with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Convention on the Standards, Training and Certification of Watch-keepers (STCW), and opens up a global sea-faring career for these young South Africans.

The programme is a skills development initiative linked to Operation Phakisa which aims to grow South Africa’s participation in the maritime economy. The initiative is managed by SAIMI and financed by the National Skills Fund.

South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) acting CEO, Mr Sobantu Tilayi

On Friday Mr Tilayi noted that: “The three-month cruise took the vessel and the cadets all the way down to 68 degrees south where they encountered severe weather. Both the vessel and the cadets passed with flying colours.”

Key to the success, he said, was ongoing cooperation and collaboration among a group of stakeholders, interested parties and the investment community. For Mr Tilayi’s full remarks (video), Click Here

Meanwhile, SAIMI chief executive officer, Dr Malek Pourzanjani was also full of praise of the success of the SA Agulhas’ latest venture into a research and training expedition.

“The fact that the Indian government was willing to entrust leading scientists and important multi-disciplinary scientific research to a South African training vessel crewed by South Africans is a tribute to the quality of our mariners and the training offered in South Africa,” Dr Pourzanjani.  For his full remarks, Click Here

Ms Phyllis Difeto, chief operations officer of TNPA was in agreement with her counterparts at SAMSA and SAIMI: “South Africa needs more world class maritime expertise at all levels,” she said, also stressing the need for

ongoing collaboration between TNPA, SAMSA, SAIMI and the private sector to ensure that South African mariners received world class training that would position them well for seafarer work around the globe.

For Ms Difeto’s full remarks, Click Here.

Meanwhile, the cadets on the expedition were full excitement, sharing their experiences as well as hopes for the future as seafarers. Two of the cadets, Afrika Masuku and Sandisiwe Ngcobo spoke briefly before their welcoming audience on Friday, thanking both their trainers and training sponsors for the opportunity. In separate interviews, five other cadets opened up about their experiences as did one of their trainers. For these interviews Click Here.

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Research and cadet training vessel, SA Agulhas back on home soil after successful Antarctica expedition

Port Elizabeth: 09 March 2017

With 30 cadets on board who scored no less than three months of continuous sailing both across the Indian Ocean and to the southern seas, the SA Agulhas, the country’s only research and seafarers’ dedicated training vessel dropped anchor on home sail again in Port Elizabeth on Thursday where it is scheduled to be welcomed with much fanfare.

The stopover at the port of Elizabeth this week to be marked by a formal “welcome back” event early on Friday morning scheduled to be beamed live on national television, will mark the end of a three month research and training expedition involving a group of Indian scientists and about 30 South African cadets that began shortly before Christmas in 2016 and took the group as far as the Antarctica.

The expedition involved the SA Agulhas departing from Cape Town headed for Port Louis in Mauritius where she took on board the group of Indian scientists prior to setting sail on the Indian Oceans towards the Antarctica.

It was the research and dedicated training vessel’s first long journey on otherwise familiar territory around the Antarctica in more than two years – an intervening period she’d been devoted strictly to cadet training and skills development by SAMSA while occasionally anchoring at Quay 500 at the port of Cape Town.

The cadet programme she is still engaged in is now managed by newly established South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) based at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, situated in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, and funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training through the National Skills Fund.

Early Friday morning, the crew of the vessel and their seafarer trainees (23 deck and 7 engine cadets) who were part of the expedition  are scheduled to be met and greeted by a number of senior officials of the respective institutions conjoined in the cadet training programme inclusive of SAMSA, SAIMI, the South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) and Marine Crew Services (MSC) as well as Transnet and other government officials.

The “welcome back” event is scheduled to start at about 6am and last until about 10am at the port of Port Elizabeth

End.

 

CPUT teams up with industry in skills development for seagoing maritime engineering cadets

Pretoria: 27 February 2017

Contributed by Kwanele Butana (Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Cape Town)

TRAILBLAZERS: The Department of Maritime Studies has teamed up with industry and the College of Cape Town to train marine engineering students in workshop skills which are needed before they start working on ships
TRAILBLAZERS: The first group of Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) marine engineering students to receive specialized training towards their certification through a new collaborative effort launched in Cape Town between the university and various other institutions.

The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) has teamed up with industry and the College of Cape Town (CCT) to launch a project to boost the skills of marine engineering students.

This flagship project known as the Marine Engineering Workshop Training (MEWT), and accredited by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA);  is intended to provide training to CPUT marine engineering cadets who successfully passed S1 and S2 in 2016. The training will take place prior to their work-integrated learning sea-going phase aboard internationally owned trading vessels.

“The MEWT is a statutory requirement of the SAMSA Code and the International Maritime Organisation’s international convention governing the standards of training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers to which South Africa is a signatory,” says Pieter Coetzer, Training and Development Manager at the South African Maritime Training Authority (SAMTRA).

Participants include CPUT’s Department of Maritime Studies, the CCT, SAMTRA and the Transport Education Training Authority. The students will be trained on, among others; diesel engines, electrical, fitting and turning, hydraulics, pneumatics, sheet metal work and welding for a period of approximately eight months. Mr Coetzer adds that after the training, the student will be required to work on merchant ships for a further 12 months, and obtain an internationally recognized Certificate of Competency issued by SAMSA.

“This will enable them to work in the international shipping arena as Marine Engineers, and earn a tax-free, foreign currency salary,” he says. The programme also ties in with the Government’s Operation Phakisa, an initiative aimed at tapping into the opportunities the ocean’s economy provide.

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Seafarers certificates verification goes electronic in South Africa: SAMSA

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Pretoria: 09 December 2016

The verification of seafarers’ certificates has swiftly moved into the digital era in South Africa  after the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) confirmed the introduction of electronic verification of the documents with effect from Thursday (08 December 2016).

According to SAMSA’s Centre for Seafarers, the shift towards electronic verification of seafarers’ certificates is in compliance with Regulation I/2 of The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW).

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Chief Examiner, Mr Azwimmbavhi Mulaudzi

Chief Examiner, Captain Azwimmbavhi Mulaudzi said: “SAMSA has just introduced electronic verification of seafarers certificates with effect from noon, Thursday; 08 December 2016. This is in line with Regulation I/2 of the STCW Convention.

Quoting from the Regulation, he said it required that ‘each Party undertakes to make available information on the status of such certificates of competency, endorsements and dispensations to other Parties and companies which request verification of the authenticity and validity of certificates produced to them by seafarers seeking recognition of their certificates under regulation I/10 or employment on board ship.’

“As of 1 January 2017, the information on the status of information required to be available in accordance with paragraph 15 of this regulation shall be made available, in the English language, through electronic means.”

Captain Mulaudzi said from Thursday onwards, verification of seafarers’ certificates could now be done by accessing the forms found available on the SAMSA’s website.

He said: “Initially, the electronic verification will only be available for ‘new format’ certificates. SAMSA will announce to the industry as and when more certificates are ported to the new platform.”

End.

Relief for seafarers and administrators after IMO extends new certification deadline by six months to July 2017

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Pretoria: 07 December 2016

Seafarers across the world, including South Africa, are breathing a great sigh of relief after the International Maritime Organization’s Maritime Safety Committee announced an extension of six months for the issuance of new certificates compliant with the Manila Convention 2010 and which every seafarer needed to have by January 2017.

The IMO’s safety committee has now extended the deadline to July 2017, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) confir20151207_151556 (2)med in Pretoria on Wednesday.

SAMSA, the country’s seafarer certificates issuing authority said the reprieve was agreed to with administrators that are party to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers STCW Convention at a five day meeting held with the IMO in London, United Kingdom, a couple of weeks ago.

According to SAMSA, the reprieve came in the wake of growing pressures experienced by seafarers’ certificates issuing administrations worldwide, and against which some appeared unlikely to meet the January 2017 deadline, thereby putting at risk thousands of seafarers’ jobs, with severe consequential disruptions to shipping liners’ operations globally.

SAMSA has since published the Marine Notice 38 of 2016 – Extension of Validity of STCW Certificates, which details the conditions under which the extension applies to seafarers holding South African certificates, as well as South African ships.

SAMSA said according to a previous arrangement announced in May this year, revised certificates covering a whole range of seafarer skills levels were being issued in terms of the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention (Manila Amendments) effective from May 2016.

IMG_1270Administrators worldwide would have until January 2017 to achieve this as all certificates issued prior to the Manila Amendments, in terms of The Merchant Shipping (Training and Certification) Regulations (1999 as amended) would expire at the end of 2016.

A Marine Notice (No.24 of 2016) to the effect was published by SAMSA on 24 May 2016, advising all affected parties of the need for affected band of seafarers to renew or revalidate their certificates prior to their expiry date on 31 December 2016.

According to the May 2016 notice (published on SAMSA’s website: http://www.samsa.org.za) applicants could use any number of ways to lodge their applications including delivering them in person or via a proxy to any of SAMSA’s offices countrywide, or filing their application online especially if they are out at sea or abroad.

At the time of the issue of the May 2016 Marine Notice, SAMSA anticipated issuing out as a matter of top priority, as many as 2300 Certificates of Competency and about 4000 Certificates of Proficiency compliant with the new Manila Amendments by December 2016.

This would be followed in sequence by as many as 5000 local certificates for fishing and port operations.

However SAMSA, as with several others administrators worldwide; experienced disruptive challenges related specifically to IT systems, and the situation simply piled on pressure.

IMG_4707 (2)IMG_4705 (2)Two weeks ago in London and following to appeals made by seafarers’ certificates issuing administrations worldwide, the IMO’s safety committee agreed to extend the deadline to July 2017.

In a statement the IMO safety committee said: “The Maritime Safety Committee, at its 97th session (21 to 25 November 2016), expressed concern with the implementation of the 2010 Manila Amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers {STCW), 1978, as amended, in light of the imminent end, on 1 January 2017, of the transitional provisions laid down in STCW Convention, regulation 1/15.

“The Committee noted that a large number of certificates needed to be issued by certificate issuing Parties confirming that their seafarers complied with the provisions of the 2010 Manila

“The Committee was particularly concerned about, and regretted the fact that, so close to the end of the transitional period, seafarers were reportedly unable to obtain certificates and/or the necessary endorsements required by regulation 1/10 meeting the requirements of the 2010 Manila Amendments to the STCW Convention.

“The Committee, therefore, urged all concerned, including certificate-issuing Parties and Administrations, to do their utmost to ensure that seafarers are issued with the appropriate certificates and necessary endorsements.

IMG_6394“The Committee agreed that, in cases where a seafarer’s documentation complies with the requirements in force immediately before 1 January 2017, but is not in accordance with the requirements of the 2010 Manila Amendments to the STCW Convention, port State control authorities, until1 July 2017, are recommended to take a pragmatic and practical approach during inspections and to notify the ships, seafarers and Administrations concerned accordingly,” the IMO Maritime Safety Committee said

In Pretoria on Wednesday, SAMSA said due to the postponement, certificates previously issued by SAMSA before it commenced issuing the ‘Manila’ compliance certificates would remain acceptable for service for seafarers until 01 July 2017.

“We are fortunate that this pressure on administrations has been recognised by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) of the IMO during their 97th Session  and extended the deadline for the transitional provisions from 01 January 2017 to 01 July 2017. This gives us an additional six (6) months in which to issue all outstanding certificates,” said SAMSA.

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